More than a Farm
Upinngil is a place and a business, but it is also a great deal more than that. It puts into action the belief that the key to regaining and maintaining environmentally sound farming practices is to re-establish the connection between consumers and the land that produces their food. When people visit a farm to buy locally-produced food , they not only re-educate their tastebuds, but they also begin to grasp the fragility and complexity of the process that puts healthful food in their stomachs. Our pick-your-own crops (strawberries, raspberries, and grapes) maximize the benefits to both the consumer and the farm: consumers enjoy a lower cost by picking fruit themselves and the farm eliminates significant overhead expenses. In the future, we hope to expand the pick-your-own model to other crops.
The LandWe farm more than 100 acres at the 411 Main Road farm and at several locations in Gill, Massachusetts. Our location in the Connecticut River Valley, the terminus of the glacial ice sheet during the Wisconsin Period, is one of the most fertile places on earth. Much of the land at Upinngil has been in cultivation or used for grazing continuously for more than 300 years. We manage our land intensely and attentively, balancing the core values of sustainability, viability, practicality, and awareness of customer needs.
The Ayrshire breed originated in County Ayr, Scotland, in the eighteenth century. Adapted to Scotland's rocky terrain and long winters, it is also an ideal New England cow. Ayrshire cows are efficient grazers and producers of high-protein, medium-fat milk. As such, they are ideally suited to grass-fed dairying operations and to cheese production.
For more information, see:
The Ayrshire Cattle Society of Great Britain and Ireland
U.S. Ayrshire Breeders' Association
Members of the Upinngil crew, Fall 2016
Clifford Hatch comes from a tradition of New England family farming that reaches back to the early seventeenth century. Cliff grew up on his family's farm in Granby, MA. After college, he obtained culinary training and embarked on a career as Chef de Cuisine, first at the Deerfield Inn and later at the Rhode Island Country Club. He and Patricia Crosby began their first farm in Seekonk, Massachusetts before moving to Gill in 1988. He is active in local and regional farming organizations and serves on the boards of the Greenfield Farmers Cooperative Exchange, the Northeast Organic Farmers Association/Massachusetts, the Franklin County Technical School, and the Greenfield YMCA.
Sorrel Hatch was raised on the Hatch-Crosby farm in Gill. She began managing her own egg business at age 5 and was involved with the family farm and 4-H throughout her youth. She attended Cornell University as a Thoreau Scholar. After graduating in 2004 with a degree in entomology, she discovered her true calling - and the best application for her scientific training - in working to develop sustainable farming practice at Upinngil. Her graphic design skills are apparent on many of our products. Her licensed home kitchen, The Little Red Hen, allows her to pursue her passion for baking, and, in her spare time(!), Sorrel is an avid contra-dancer.
Isaac Bingham and Sorrel were married on the hill behind the farm in 2013. They have two sons, August and Everett. Isaac graduated from Berea College in 2005 with a bachelors degree in Fine Art. In the years after college he worked as a chainsaw sculptor - you can find some examples of his work scattered across the Upinngil landscape. He also has extensive carpentry experience. He milks cows, makes cheese, works on building improvement projects (of which there are many), and helps with day-to-day farm management and crop production. He is responsible for starting the farm’s piggery in 2014, now raising 8 pigs each season. In the winter he takes a small break from farming and “throws pots”. His stunning ceramics can be found in the farm store year round.
Rhys Hatch grew up in Gill and was feeding the animals before he could read or tie his shoes. He graduated from Brown University in 2008 with a degree in Literary Arts. On a trip home from Rhode Island in 2009, he decided to help out a little. A few months later, he was putting the finishing touches on Upinngil's magnificent post-and-beam barn.
Jodi has worked at Upinngil for five years, bottling milk and keeping the growing Farm Store stocked and tidy. She helps produce fresh baked goods daily for the store.
Demand for our milk and cheese has grown rapidly. Thanks to the building skills of Rhys Hatch and friends, our beautiful new post-and-beam barn allows us to house and feed more cows. In the next few years, we hope to shift all of our crops to pick-your-own or on-site retail. In other words, we are going to try to do more of what we do best, putting fresh, locally-produced farm products directly into the hands of consumers.